Document Type


Peer Reviewed


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Journal/Book/Conference Title

British Journal of Political Science

DOI of Published Version


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Comparable survey data from Norway, Sweden and the United States are used to examine trends in political trust for the period 1964-86. During the early part of that period trust declined in all three countries; later it recovered for Norway but continued to plummet in Sweden and the United States. Three major features of the party system are hypothesized to explain the difference in these trends for the three countries. These features are: the structural aspects of the party system; the public's cognitive judgements of the parties as representatives of the policy interests; and the possibility that a negative rejection of political parties as undesirable institutions may spill over to citizen evaluations of government more generally. One major finding is that political discontent in Norway was reduced because new parties provided the disaffected with a means of representation, thus channelling dissatisfaction back into the electoral arena. In Sweden and the United States, which have more rigid party systems, accumulating dissatisfaction was directed at the regime more generally because many people failed to see any of the parties as a viable alternative.

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Published Article/Book Citation

British Journal of Political Science, 20:3 (1990) pp. 357-386.


Copyright © 1990 Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.